PREVIEW – We have played FIFA 18 on PS4 Pro for a good few hours, and we count our impressions to the most realistic soccer simulator to date. On this occasion, Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the protagonist, not only for the cover but for being the first player in the FIFA saga who is ”scanned in”.
But let us speak about another great player now… Last August 8, at the Filip II Stadium in Skopje, Macedonia, the European Super Cup took place against the champions in European competitions last season, facing Real Madrid full of power against a Manchester United in full reconstruction. Many were the details to consider in this match, but one of the most remarkable was the official debut of Romelu Lukaku with the English ensemble. Lukaku is a peculiar player with great physical characteristics, and the team that wants to integrate it into his game must know them well: he is strong, tall and his body is robust, but the most important are the way he uses it.
It is fantastic to receive any ball back to the goal and offer a second pass to the player who comes face to face, and then go to his natural place, the area. Once there he is lethal, and despite his corpulence, he has a tremendous ability to finish all type of balls and that the great majority of its opportunities finish in the goal of one way or another.
That Supercup night, Manchester United did not know how to use his new spearhead, and in part, he also did not adapt well to the team’s game, still chaotic and disorderly. However, five days later, in the first league game, they showed the opposite and Lukaku scored two of the four goals conceded by West Ham.
Learn to use their strengths!
While playing the first matches, and later playing with Manchester United himself, the changes brought by FIFA 18 reminded me constantly of these two matches and this player. Both meetings were an example of how to use or not to use a player of these characteristics, and this is something in which now we must think permanently with the game. How does this player move? Is it explosive and has it started? Is it slow and awkward? Does it go well with both legs?
These questions, now more than ever, will be repeated many times in our head, from the configuration of the alignments to real-time match situations. Like Lukaku is an expert protecting the ball with his body to receive facing his teammates, Modric has an extraordinary ability to make abrupt turns with the controlled ball, Kanté can occupy exaggeratedly large terrain plots, and Fellaini. .. well, to be Fellaini. These players behave and move on the lawn in a certain way, and their avatars in the game will do the same.
Realism all the way!
All these changes that EA is gradually implementing in the playable formula respond to a very clear trend towards realism, towards a more accurate simulation of the real sport that it tries to imitate. FIFA is becoming less like himself, frantic and agile, choosing to resemble the real influence: real football. In this way, this new system of animations completely changes the game and goes one step further in the path of authenticity versus gamification, making the way to play slower, more technical, and above all more tactical. It might seem that those animations, that eagerness to get players to move like their real models, is a purely aesthetic detail, but it has a tremendous direct impact when it comes to playing.
As in reality with the players themselves, decision-making in the field is an essential factor for the game: it is an indispensable virtue to know how to analyze the situation and to identify quickly which is the best decision to make. When making a dribble, race, a pass or a shot, it will have to take into account more than ever the disposition of the player and its placement, and depend on that the movement will be more or less precise. A short pass to make a wall at the first touch with someone on their backs will almost always end badly, because, unlike before, now those physical limitations are more present. Players have more difficulty performing impossible stunts just because they have to do them at the moment so that the player can finish his play, and this no longer happens precisely because in reality, he does not.
For the same reason, it is necessary to pay the same attention, or even more for the lack of custom, not only to the pass-issuer but also to the receivers. These, depending on the placement of their legs, how the pass comes, and their natural predisposition to that particular type of movement, will receive the ball in one way or another, sometimes ending in success, others in failure, many in something in between: perhaps a pass well received but that has cost control or a perfect pass that was at a loss for a stupid trip.
For those of us who like the game of association in the face of verticality, these new variants are noticed very fast, because they change the game a lot: we often draw plays and maintain possession a lot thanks to simple passes to the first or second touch, something that now will be much more complicated, taking into account how much we have to watch the players receiving the passes and whether or not they are in a good position to receive it.
Incentives in real time
Just as Mourinho and Manchester United themselves learned in a few weeks how to integrate a player like Lukaku in their game (will have to see if this is maintained from here to end of season, of course), making some variations, the FIFA player should do the same with everyone, in addition to taking into account many other incentives in real time. Now in FIFA, it is also important to know the real player, to know how to play games every weekend, and that knowledge will probably help you in the game, more than ever.
In Anfield you’ll hear the You’ll Never Walk Alone in unison and at the Bernabeu, you’re pissed if you’re losing, so everything seems to fit the reality. Except for the brilliant mind behind the signing of Kyle Walker’s half-million-pound pawn, which seems to have happened backward: this guy is thought to be playing FIFA.
The most real football
Each new FIFA, Electronic Arts praises the numerous improvements, corrections and new ideas that are reflected in the saga. What one year was worth and was good, the next one could not be and stop being worth.
Evolution was seen, but not so much as to justify an annual delivery, something that players have demanded for years (that EA will launch a DLC with new templates and a few tweaks instead of a new game every month).
With the arrival of FIFA 17, we saw a real evolution, although it was not the revolution that was expected when changing engine (from Ignite to Frostbite). However, in FIFA 18, without being a revolution concerning the previous delivery, there is an even bigger jump than the one seen between FIFA 16 and FIFA 17. The reason is clear: it’s the experience that the development team acquired with the engine during the development of last year.
And that is that Electronic Arts has polished everything we saw in FIFA 17 focusing on three specific details: the immediate response of the command, artificial intelligence and physical.
” Responsive ” was the term most heard during the presentation of FIFA 18 at the Santiago Bernabeu. It is something that means ” sensitivity ”, the immediacy between the push of the button and the response of the player on the field. It may seem like a minor change, eliminating that ‘gap’ or ‘lag’ is fine, but it’s not so much, you can think. However, it is a playable world.
And that delay between our orders and the animation of the footballer is something that, in the last installments, has been faced to FIFA.
The first impressions of FIFA 18 are very positive. With the control in hand, you feel that the game has improved thanks to more polished physics that result in the better behavior of players, but also the ball, which now does less strange things.
Graphically impressive and the recreation of both stadiums and footballers is sublime, with some characters that move exactly like the real model (highlighting Cristiano Ronaldo, of course, with his capture of movements). However, we look forward to seeing the FUT mode working and if now the players are more “flexible” regarding their role in the field of play.
These might make it a success:
+ Realism all the way
+ Even better graphics
+ Truly using the strength of the players
These might make it a disappointment:
– Too realistic for its own good?
– Possible control problems
– Are the changes truly great?
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Games
Genre: football simulation
Relase date: September 26, 2017